Stress can take a huge toll on your health. It not only deteriorates existing health conditions but also puts you at risk of many others. In short, if you are stressed, you will fall ill more frequently than a person who has a relaxed state of mind. Stress can affect your immunity and your risk of diabetes, heart diseases, cancer also goes up when you have chronic stress. While stress is a by-product of our modern lifestyle, it can be beaten with mindfulness exercises like pranayama and meditation. Breathing exercises help you relax and release stress that accumulates over a period of time. They also help you connect with parasympathetic nervous system, which is basically a network of nerves that help relax your body after periods of stress or danger. So, while moderate levels of stress are important for our productivity, the problem begins when we aren't able to release this stress efficiently. (Also read: Diabetes: 6 tasty and healthy recipes to keep blood sugar levels in check)
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How breathing exercises help manage diabetes
"Stress, anxiety, and depression are well-known to be associated with diabetes. ‘Endorphins' are released when you do deep breathing as well as meditation. When you practice pranayama and meditation regularly, the levels of counter-regulatory hormones like adrenaline, non-adrenaline and cortical, which block the action of insulin come down. When one does deep breathing, it brings in a state of deep relaxation. The stress which tends to accumulate in the muscles, particularly in the neck and on one's shoulders, disappears and one becomes relaxed and more cheerful," says Dr. Shrey Srivastav, MD (General Medicine), Sharda Hospital.
"10-15 minutes a day of deep breathing will help you in controlling diabetes and also reducing blood pressure and preventing heart disease," says Dr Srivastav.
How deep breathing can help strengthen lungs, protect from pollutants
Dr Srivastav says a short 10-minute deep breathing yoga routine can help strengthen your lungs, cleanse your nasal passage and combat pollutants.
"Limit your outdoor exposure. For children and senior citizens, it is advisable to stay indoors as they are most sensitive to poor air quality. Avoid going out during peak hours when pollution is extremely high. Any outdoor sports activity should be avoided, as well as morning and evening walk. Certain breathing exercises can help keep away the toxic effects of air pollutants," says the expert.
"Yoga exercises practiced indoors will help. A deep breathing exercise like Pranayam is recommended on a regular basis. Wear full-sleeved clothes and a mask when you step out. N95 and N99 pollution masks are effective in the given circumstances. If you do not have a mask, use a clean cloth to cover the mouth," says Dr Srivastav.
Eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids
"Vitamin C and omega fatty acids may help boost immunity. Add jaggery, tulsi, honey, ginger, lemon, basil leaves, and lots of water to your daily diet. Warm water with honey in the morning will help," says the expert.